On January 25, 2010, at around 5pm, John Witmer of Millersburg, Pennsylvania, arrived home to discover that the Old Pony Truss Bridge connecting Route 147 to his private driveway had collapsed and decking from the bridge had fallen onto the railroad track below. Heavy rain caused the bank below the bridge to give way when the 19th century stone and mortar retaining wall supporting it failed. To make matters even worse, a train was scheduled to run along the track beneath the bridge at 5:15pm. Luckily, Witmer was able to slide down the bank, run up the other side and call 9-1-1 to have the train stopped before it got to the debris-covered area of the track.
With the crisis averted, Witmer still needed to find a way to access his property and Norfolk Southern Corporation, owner of the rail line, needed to get their track cleared and the rail line back in service.
In late 2010, the City of Sunbury, Pennsylvania began a major revitalization project to repair its damaged riverfront. Flooding and erosion are major issues for Sunbury because it is located on the banks of the Susquehanna River, which is frequently in the news for flooding.
According to the Sunbury Riverfront Master Site Plan, approximately 18 inches (0.45 meters) of riverfront was being lost each year. If this instability and erosion were allowed to continue, the loss of riverfront would persist, further damaging the existing retaining walls and flood walls. To stop erosion and begin construction, the City first needed a structural solution to stabilize the banks of the river.
It all began with a fire. When a historic house burned down in 2006, it left vacant property that was prone to flooding. In 2015, the city of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, embarked on a $6 million waterfront redevelopment project to beautify the area, attract more foot traffic, and boost business in town.